7 Types of Cedar Trees in Texas: Identification Guide (Chart, Pictures)

Types of Cedar Trees in Texas growing on a path showing different types of Cedar trees on a hiking trail.

You may know a few types of cedar trees in Texas or are at least familiar with cedar-style hay fever, if you are from the state.

Cedar Trees are part of the juniper genus plants, and each has an outstanding feature that differentiates them from the rest, although the pollen spores released by them can cause serious allergies.

This guide outlines and identifies some common types of cedar trees in Texas, showing you their features and pictures to help identify them.

Types of Cedar Trees in Texas: Guide To Identifying the Different Types of Cedar Trees

As one of the US’s largest states, Texas has a massive climate range7 that can accommodate various tree species; the following are some of the most common types of cedar trees in Texas.

1. Rock Cedar
(Juniperus ashei)

Photo of Rock cedar tree beside of the building.

(Image: Ed Gilman12)

The Juniperus ashei is also called the Ashe Juniper, Post cedar, Texas cedar, Mountain cedar, and Mexican juniper. It is famous for producing the pollen allergen, and it has, over the years, evolved as a dominant species, absorbing ground water and starving nearby native plants.

  • Rock Cedar Leaves: bright green, 2-5 mm long, and on rounded shoots
  • Rock Cedar Bark: gray or reddish brown with shredded strips
  • Rock Cedar Flowers: dioecious, separate reproductive parts
  • Rock Cedar Acorns: round, pulpy, berry-like, green but turn purple when mature

2. Redberry Juniper
(Juniperus coahuilensis)

Close up photo of Redberry Juniper.

(Image: kasiaczernik13)

The Redberry is common in west Texas, mostly on rocky and infertile soils. It prefers medium or high elevations of 4000-6000 meters and usually grows like a large shrub, reaching 23 feet, and its impressive quality is its ability to re-sprout after damage.3

  • Redberry Juniper Leaves: have glands producing white crystalline resin
  • Redberry Juniper Bark: brown or gray with long strips when mature
  • Redberry Juniper Flowers: non-flowering type, only cones
  • Redberry Juniper Acorns: yellow-orange or dark red that matures in one year

3. Oakbark/Alligator Cedar
(Juniperus deppeana)

A tree with a twisted trunk stands in a rocky forest terrain.

(Image: elizabeth11517)

The name comes from its thick rugged bark that looks like an alligator’s skin; it can grow to a large shrub or a tree and is one of the smallest cedars. The thickness helps protect it from pests and harsh temperatures, and you can find it in the arid areas of Texas.

  • Oakbark/Alligator Cedar Leaves: green, glaucous, often appears silvery
  • Oakbark/Alligator Cedar Bark: hard, dark gray or brown, cracked in small squares
  • Oakbark/Alligator Cedar Flowers: non-flowering gymnosperm
  • Oakbark/Alligator Cedar Acorns: berry-like, green when young, and orange-brown when mature

4. Drooping Cedar
(Juniperus flaccid)

Image of drooping cedar in the middle of the forest.

(Image: Photo courtesy of James Manhart, Texas A&M University14)

The outstanding feature of the drooping cedar is its long, falling branches that resemble a weeping willow. It usually grows to over 55 feet and thrives in acidic soil, but it is relatively hardy and able to survive a wide range of low and high temperatures.

  • Drooping Cedar Leaves: drooping, wilted-like foliage
  • Drooping Cedar Bark: brown, with long vertical fissuring
  • Drooping Cedar Flowers: a form of a small cone that blooms in spring
  • Drooping Cedar Acorns: dull black, soft, berry-like

5. Mountain Red Cedar
(Juniperus scopulorum)

A large and dense tree in a grassy landscape under a clear blue sky.

(Image: zzphantom19)

This species is also called the Rocky Mountain juniper and typically grows to 30 feet but can reach 50 feet. You can find it in the mountainous areas of west Texas, where it naturally grows as a windbreak;8 farmers plant it for the same purpose and as privacy screens.

  • Mountain Red Cedar Leaves: non-overlapping, foliage may point upwards or be flaccid
  • Mountain Red Cedar Bark: shedding red-brown
  • Mountain Red Cedar Flowers: green, blooms during spring to fall
  • Mountain Red Cedar Acorns: light blue and have a gray waxy coating

6. Red Cedar
(Juniperus virginiana)

Close up photo of Red Cedar with its fruits and leaves.

(Image: AnanthS15)

Native Americans cherished the red cedar for its healing properties and aroma.5 Although native to the US and Canada, it grows in the Texas wild, and people plant it in their homes, which helps in their carbon offset credits.

  • Red Cedar Leaves: takes two forms (sharp, needle-like, and flat adult foliage)
  • Red Cedar Bark: reddish brown, peels in narrow strands
  • Red Cedar Flowers: dioecious seeds and pollen on different trees
  • Red Cedar Acorns: long, dark-purple, berry-like with white wax covering

7. One-Seed Juniper
(Juniperus monosperma)

A bushy green shrub stands in the center of a dry grassland.

(Image: aspidoscelis18)

It is a common tree in West Texas and can be shrub or tree-like and is typically multi-stemmed, growing in a bushy, round crown. The native Navajo people ate the cones when ripe and used the bark to make dye.

  • One-Seed Juniper Leaves: needle-like, in alternating whorls
  • One-Seed Juniper Bark: gray-brown, shredding downwards in thin, long strips
  • One-Seed Juniper Flowers: dioecious with female and male cones on different plants
  • One-Seed Juniper Acorns: dark blue, berry-like, with a single seed

Texas Juniper Tree: The Main Juniper Species Types of Cedar Trees in Texas

The two main juniper species9 in Texas include the Ashe and Redberry junipers. The Ashe juniper/ post cedar/ blueberry cedar is primarily found in the east and south of the Edwards Plateau and covers more than 8 million acres of the rangelands.

Their presence extends to south Texas and northwards to the Rolling Plains and Cross Timbers. On the other hand, the Redberry juniper is mainly west of the Edwards Plateau and east Trans-Pecos.

It covers more than 11 million acres in Texas and overlaps with the Ashe in several regions. Currently, you can find both species in rocky, limestone, gravel, and deep fertile soils. The other species in Texas don’t cover as much of the state’s rangeland, although they are also common.

Facts To Know About the Texas Mountain Cedar

Many know the Texas Mountain cedar as a magnificent tree common in the Texas wild, but there are a few fun facts about it.

  • They Are Not True Cedars

The Texas Mountain cedars, commonly the “Mountain Cedars”, are scientifically known as the Juniperus Ashei; therefore, they are junipers, not true cedars.6

  • They Are Famous for Their Pollen

The pollen from the Mountain cedar is notable due to the large amount and the size of the grains. People with allergies often have issues with it, especially during the high pollen season, commonly known as “cedar fever”.

  • They Form a Cover for Animals

One of the best features of the Texas Mountain deer is its fast growth rate and drought tolerance. The trees are home to large and small animals who also use them for hiding and caring for their newborns.

Cedar Trees North Texas Distribution

Cedar trees are common in central, eastern, and western Texas.

According to the map below, most regions with more than 2 million acres of junipers are in the east and central part of Texas.

Juniper Vs Cedar Texas: What Is the Difference?

Junipers and cedars are evergreen trees from the Pinales plant order with several common traits that make them easy to confuse. Some trees that many call cedars are junipers in reality, and it helps to take a closer look to tell them apart.

  • Description

Given the several types of cedar trees in Texas, it may be difficult to distinguish cedars from junipers by looking at them. However, a keen eye can note a few differences. For instance, junipers don’t usually grow as tall as cedars; most of them are shrubs, not trees.

Secondly, the cedar leaves look like fans, and the trees grow small cones, while the juniper’s needles tend to be flat and produce tiny berries instead of cones. Lastly, juniper barks are brown or gray, while most cedar barks are brown or red.

  • Classification

Cedar trees and junipers belong to different genera and plant families. While junipers are in the cypress and the Juniperus genus, the cedars belong to the pine family and the Cedrus genus.

  • Hardiness Zones

Another significant difference between the junipers and cedars is that they thrive in different regions. Junipers grow in hardiness zones 7-10, but the cedars prefer zones 6-9; therefore, the former are more resilient, although both are pretty hardy.

  • Uses

The two are both famous for their ornamental use globally, particularly in producing bonsai and small trees for décor and gardens.

Juniper’s flexibility makes it suitable for making tools and posts and is an ingredient in gin production, while cedar’s unique smell makes it ideal for moth repellents.

Where Is Mountain Cedar Found in the US?

The United States Forest Service11 reports that the Mountain Cedar or Ashe Juniper is present in more than 8.6 million acres of forests in Texas, Missouri and Arkansas, but it is primarily in central Texas.

The Ashe Juniper is a native plant from Northeast Mexico and South-central US to South Missouri. The residents of central Texas are usually the worst hit by the release of cedar

Is Ashe Juniper Native to Texas? Where Can You Find It Growing Naturally?

The Ashe Juniper is also known as the Mountain cedar, Texas cedar, Post cedar, and Blueberry cedar. It is from the Cypress family and is named after William Ashe (1872-1932), a United States Forest Service founder, who collected a sample in Arkansas.

The Ashe Juniper is originally from southern Missouri, down to Oklahoma, through west and central Texas to north Chihuahua, and it was common in the central part of Texas when the Europeans explored the region.

When the leaves fall, they decompose and form a rich soil ideal for native plants, particularly the Cedar Sage. Wildlife also makes the tree their home and eats the berries, while the wood is suitable for making fence posts and other furniture.

What Is Ashe Juniper Growth Rate?

The Ashe Juniper trees grow at different rates, mainly depending on the condition of the site and other unique factors. Several studies have shown various growth rates10 among trees in 30 years, varying from 0.58 meters to 1.94 meters a year.

Growth rate chart of Ashe Juniper Tree.

The significant variation is in the individual plant’s growth, with some showing little change in the first 10-20 years and then rapid growth after 20 years. In contrast, others grew exponentially in their first years, but the rate later declined.

What Is Ashe Juniper Lifespan?

Generally, junipers grow gradually and can live longer, some reaching 350-700 years. However, their size stays the same, rarely going past the 30-foot mark. You can even find a 50-year-old juniper standing at only five feet.

The average lifespan of the Ashe Juniper is 50 years, but it can live longer with proper care and maintenance. The wood is famous for its rot-resistant properties, which makes it ideal for manufacturing posts that last decades.

Ashe Juniper Size: How Tall Can the Ashe Juniper Get?

The Ashe Juniper’s growth rate ranges from slow to moderate based on the prevailing conditions. It typically grows to 33 feet but can grow taller in exceptional circumstances; some can reach 49 feet.

It stays resilient and evergreen throughout the seasons and lasts around 50 years, providing shade for animals and preventing soil erosion thanks to the robust root system.

Cedar Tree Allergies Texas: How It Spreads?

While people with allergies are safe during the winter when everything is frozen and the plants are not blooming, Texas has a unique allergen at that time. The Mountain cedar spreads pollen in the winter, while the Eastern Red cedar pollinates in spring, meaning the pollen season extends from January to March.2

The pollen is responsible for “cedar fever”, where brown cones cover the male trees and burst open when it’s dry and windy, releasing allergens. You can see it collecting and blowing over in large gusts, especially in central Texas, and sometimes people mistake it for a wildfire.

Wind transports it to as far as Oklahoma, and the fever can affect people even when they are nowhere near juniper trees. These species are unique, releasing pollen during winter since they appear in December, and the peak production is in January.

As the pollen slowly subsides towards the end of March, the oak tree joins in, ready for the spring allergies to resume. Therefore, experts always advise people with pollen allergies to stay alert and seek medication immediately after they detect the symptoms.

Cedar Tree Allergy Symptoms To Look Out For

People often mistake cedar tree allergy symptoms for the common cold. Some symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, nasal blockage, watery eyes, sore throat, temporary loss of smell, and sometimes a slight fever.

Others also state they experience mild headaches, fatigue, and ear blockage. All these signs are seasonal illnesses due to the heavy pollen production but remember that “cedar fever” doesn’t usually cause fevers.

However, the inflammation may cause your temperature to rise slightly, but pollen may not be responsible for the fever if the temperature is higher than 101.5 degrees.4 One way to confirm whether you are reacting to the allergen is that the mucous is usually runny and clear.

Allergic reactions occur when the immune system responds to the allergens trying to protect the body. These symptoms are common in people between December and February; luckily, you can take some steps to minimize exposure, and effective treatments are available.

How To Treat Cedar Pollen Allergy

There are over-the-counter and prescription drugs you can take to repress the allergic reaction to pollen from various types of cedar trees in Texas. You can use OTC antihistamines in pill, eye drop, or spray form to manage the symptoms.

Nasal irrigation can also help wash off the allergens and eliminate excessive mucus; you only need to fill a syringe with warm water and salt. Doctors can also advise anti-inflammatory drugs; if your symptoms are persistent, it will be safer to seek prescribed medication.

If the remedies are ineffective, some physicians can suggest allergy shots. It is best to take allergy medicines according to the prescription, and you can visit the doctor in the fall before winter starts to get your allergy medication early.1

Cedar Allergy: Foods To Avoid During the Cedar Allergy Season

Not many know this, but the food you eat may raise the body’s histamine levels and increase allergy symptoms. They may not necessarily cause the reaction to cedar pollen, but eating them when the histamine levels are up can make you feel worse.

Processed, pickled, and dry foods are not ideal, and you are safer avoiding them in your diet the entire allergy season. The following are some foods you should not eat when managing your cedar pollen allergies.

  • Ketchup
  • Sausage
  • Red wine
  • Champagne
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Tofu
  • Parmesan or any other aged cheese
  • Spinach
  • Eggplant

Cedar Tree Allergy Rash: Does Cedar Allergy Cause Rashes?

Cedar allergy symptoms are usually similar to the flu, like a runny nose, sneezing, and sore throat. In rare cases, people report slight headaches, ear blockages, and fever. Other than that, there is no connection between pollen allergies and rashes.

However, some people have skin irritation when the cedar pollen contacts them, leading to itching and rashes. They may have red patches on the skin, which worsen due to the scratching.

If you suspect your rash is from the pollen, you can visit your nearest clinic to find out for sure and get it treated.

What Are the Mountain Cedar Allergy Symptoms?

The signs of Ashe Juniper allergies are similar to those of springtime pollen allergies. The symptoms are typically called “cedar fever”, which may appear like the common flu, although it is more severe.

If allergic to pollen from the Mountain cedar, you may show symptoms like sneezing, irritated eyes, runny nose, nasal blockage, fatigue, sore throat, facial pain, sinus pressure, and sinus headache, among other signs.

When Is the Mountain Cedar Pollen Season?

Those allergic to pollen relax during winter when the trees are frozen and blooming is not expected. However, the mountain cedar is different since the peak pollen season is during winter.

It can start affecting people from November until March, although the peak pollen production happens between December and February. It is when cedars start pollinating, producing, and transferring the particles in the air over miles through the wind.

What Are the Indoor Remedies of Cedar Fever Caused By Various Types of Cedar Trees in Texas?

While you can get a doctor’s prescription and have your symptoms treated, the best way to stay safe is to prevent contact with the allergen while staying indoors. It is critical to keep all the windows and doors shut and turn on the air conditioner when there is heavy pollen production.

It may also help to use a HEPA filter, vacuum carpets, and regularly dust your home with damp cloths. You can also observe hygiene by taking a shower, changing your clothes from outside, and bathing the pets to remove pollen particles from their fur.

A diagram for HEPA Filter.

(Image: LadyofHats16)

Many associate cedars with the heavy pollen production that affects those allergic to pollen but considering how many trees there are in the world, the cedar stands out as a magnificent species that positively impact the environment.

There are various species in shrub and tree forms that homeowners and farmers grow as windbreakers and fences. You can identify them from the berry-like flowers and needle-like leaves that are evergreen throughout the seasons.

Different types of cedar trees in Texas produce large pollen amounts, and if allergic, it is best to take preventive measures and seek advice from a doctor when you notice any of the symptoms.

Read More About Types of Cedar Trees in Texas


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2Family Allergy and Asthma Care. (2020, December 29). MOUNTAIN CEDAR “AKA” TEXAS’S WINTERTIME MISERY. Retrieved from: <https://www.faaccares.com/2020/mountain-cedar-aka-texass-wintertime-misery/>

3Strain, K. (2019, August 3). A guide to distinguishing Texas cedar trees (Juniperus species). Retrieved from: <https://perennialecology.wordpress.com/2019/08/03/a-guide-to-distinguishing-texas-cedar-trees-juniperus-species/>

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